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How to make a Tailor's Ham

Hi everyone! I’m Annick, An Ca, from Flaxfield Sewing and today I want to share with you my ultimate secret for pressing.  Pressing is one of the most important things when you want to  make your own made clothes look really professional.  It’s easy to skip this step in the sewing process, but it makes a world of difference for your final result.    

Pressing straight seams is not so difficult, but when it comes to curved or shaped seams or seams at places you can’t easily reach, it’s a lot more challenging to get a clean result.  And that’s where my secret pressing tool makes my life a whole lot easier: I’m a huge fan of the Tailor’s Ham!  A Tailor’s Ham comes in many shapes and sizes.  It’s a tool used in sewing to help you pressing and shaping garments using the heat and steam of your iron.

tailors ham

I made a new Tailor’s Ham for myself in a beautiful fabric and I used it several times when sewing my new Sabrina Slims Pants !  This beautiful pattern deserves to be pressed well while sewing.  The end result speaks for itself:

tailors ham

I’m so pleased that I can share my pattern for the Tailor’s ham and the seam roll with you on the Love Notions Blog.  Now you can make your own!

What do you need?

  1. Your normal sewing tools such as your scissors, pins and needles, yarn and of course your sewing machine.  Furthermore, a round object and a curved ruler are also easy, but not necessary.  You also need a large piece of paper or 4 papers of letter or A4 size, to draw your pattern on.
  2. Fabric: You’ll need a fabric with a tight weave so it can be stuffed very firmly.  The tailors ham will probably be used quite often with a really hot, steamy iron, so the fabric must dry quick after use and must be heat resistant.  The best fabric to use is a 100% cotton fabric or a 100% wool or a combination of the two.  I used Canvas in a beautiful print.
  3. Stuffing:  Even though you can use many types of filling, the number 1 is still sawdust or wood shavings.  They remain firm and don’t compress with use.  You can get it often for free in the sawmill or you can buy it in pet stores.  You could also use fabric scraps but make sure that there is no fabric in it that could melt at high temperatures.
tailors ham

Now we can start drawing …

I will describe the dimensions of:

  • a classic tailors ham
  • and a seam roll

When you work with paper of letter or A4 size, you first stick with adhesive tape 2 pages together on the short side and 2 pages on the long side.

For  the classic Tailor’s Ham:

Take the two pages that are glued with the long side.

Draw a horizontal line of 30 cm or 12 inches in the middle.

Then copy the measurements from the image below, and connect them with a smooth line.  This is where the curved ruler comes in handy.

tailors ham

For the seam roll:

Take the two pages that are glued with the short side.

Draw a horizontal line of 40 cm or 16 inches in the middle.

Then draw 2 parallel horizontal lines 5 cm or 2 inches from the center line.  So the distance between both lines is 10 cm or 4 inches.

tailors ham

Connect the top of the center line to the 2 parallel horizontal lines with a round object on one side.  Do the same on the other side.  You will then get the following shape:

Cut Pattern Pieces

Now take your chosen fabric and your pattern pieces.  Cut out the pattern with 1 cm or 3/8” seam allowance.


Pin the top and bottom of the Tailor’s Ham and the Seam Roll together.  Sew but leave a 10 cm or 4 inches turning gap, so it is possible to turn and stuff your tailor’s ham.

Now cut in the seam allowance at the curves every cm or 3/8”.  Cut close to the stitching, but not in it.


Stuff the Taillor’s Ham as firmly as you can.  It needs to hold it’s shape even when pressure is applied to it.

Hand sew the turning gap with small stitches placed closely together.  Be sure to make very small stitches so no stuffing can escape!

Tadadaa … You’re done.  You will see that pressing will go much smoother in the future.  In any case, I already used my new tools while sewing my Sabrina Slims Pants !

Don’t forget to buy this beautiful pattern because it’s the Featured Friday pattern on the Love Notions site!

The Sabrina Slims is a style that is all the rage.  The contoured waistband, that sits at the natural waist, is really slimming.   The pants is meant to hit at the ankle and you can choose for so many options!  I made mine out of stretch woven.  And I choose to sew the pants with back patch pockets in de 28” inseam length (three lengths are included!).

The pattern is even pregnancy-friendly when you use the overbelly waistband.

I hope you will try to sew a Tailor’s ham.  Once you own one, you can’t sew and press without it!

See you soon at Flaxfield Sewing!




Author Tessa

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